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Presidential Elections 2017 – Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy vs ideology

“The time is fast approaching when India will have to elect the first President of the Republic. I would have proposed the name of Chakrayya (a talented young Andhra Dalit), had he been alive” – Mahatma Gandhi on 2June,1947

“If I have my way, the President of the Indian Republic will be a chaste and a brave Bhangi girl …” Mahatma Gandhi on 27June,1947

The above excerpts are from Raj Mohan Gandhi’s new book “Why Gandhi Still Matters”. Meanwhile, brother of the author, Gopal Krishna Gandhi who is former diplomat and governor, is being considered as the joint-opposition candidate to be India’s next President. He carries the legacy of his paternal grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and his maternal grandfather C Rajagopalachari. AICC President Sonia Gandhi is trying her best to build consensus among anti-BJP parties. Meanwhile, reports surfaced that Narendra Modi might just pick Governor of Jharkhand Draupadi Murmu a tribal candidate from Odisha as the NDA Presidential candidate giving the nation first tribal woman President as per Mahatma’s thoughts. The initial pitch was Gandhi’s legacy against Gandhi’s ideologies.

However, the book by RajMohan Gandhi was released in the beginning of May. Though Gandhi’s idea of President was published in his earlier book, this particular release and the timing created stir in the political circles. Two months before independence, Gandhi proposed a strong symbolic move of appointing a Dalit woman or man as free India’s first president. It was only after one Governor General and 9 Presidents post-independence, a Dalit K R Narayanan was appointed as the tenth President of India. Consequently, the name of former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar surfaced from the UPA wing. Meira Kumar hails from Bihar and is daughter of prominent Dalit leader, Jagjivan Ram.

If the message of Gandhi is scrutinized further, by pitching for Chakrayya, Gandhi was addressing the issue of North South Divide. There has been an unwritten protocol of rotating Presidential candidates consecutively between South and North. While the anticipated candidates belong to North India, Modi government might bring in the concept of “Hindustan” where in any place beyond the Vindhyas is South. Apart from that, the saffron party can establish itself in Odisha where it is facing strong party like BJD. When it comes to Draupadi or Meira Kumar, either Odisha or Bihar government’s will likely support their state candidate setting aside the party affiliations. As, the schedule of the elections will be apparently announced next week, this might draw ire of modern South India – Karnataka Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa. President Pranab Mukherjee’s term expires on July 25,2017. This time around the country awaits revelation not only from NDA but also from UPA.

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